Flies hate mint! Who knew?!

Mint plant

No matter how clean you keep animal enclosures, there are always flies around in the summer months. I greatly dislike flies around my fur babies; I like chemical fly repellents even less!  So I am constantly looking for natural ways to keep flies at bay.

I stumbled on to an idea about using sprigs of fresh mint and lavender, twist-tied to the bars of the cage.  We have mint growing, and lavender growing, so I got right on this idea.  And, you know what?  It works!!  I really think flies don’t like mint!  And, it turns out, I REALLY do!  The smell of the fresh mint and lavender, when smooshed slightly together with the twist tie, is wonderful!

Pixie Ruth and Mint

When these sprigs dry out, I put them up on top of the cage and tie fresh ones on.  The bunnies really seem to like them, too!  Little Pixie Ruth likes them a bit too much, and eats them if I don’t keep them out of her reach.  They are perfectly fine for her to eat, but doesn’t do “fly duty” in her little stomach!

Peppermint Spray

So, what if you don’t grow lots of mint?  It turns out that if you put about 15 drops of peppermint essential oil in a small spray bottle of purified water and spritz it on and around the cage each day – that works really well, too.  Be careful not to spray it directly on the bunnies (you don’t want to get it in their eyes), just on the cage.

Coco and Izzy with mintSO excited to be hosting Animal B.E.S.T. this weekend at Morter Farm.  Along with teaching the amazing Animal B.E.S.T. procedure for small and large animals, we will have a whole presentation about using essential oils in animal care.  You can find out more about Animal B.E.S.T. at http://www.morter.com.

I fell in love with a house yesterday!

It's Calling Me picI fell in love with a house yesterday. Well I say yesterday, but you know, I fell in love with that house years ago. After all, I drive by it multiple times a week. It’s right smack in downtown Rogers – right by the railroad tracks. It’s a 2-story beauty from 1885, and I’m in love. It’s for sale and has been for sale for about a year now. For some reason, yesterday, I paid attention and started the wheels churning about what I could do with that house. The trigger was when I found myself saying to Ted as we were driving by it, “If I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d buy that house and fix it up and open the first bed and breakfast in downtown Rogers! What?!   Where did THAT come from?!

 

But I’m telling you, as soon as I said those words, my whole word changed. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. And so, I talked Ted into taking a walk around the property at lunch yesterday. It’s empty, so I wasn’t worried about bothering anyone. I just wanted to look in the windows. So, in typical Ted fashion, he walked right up to the front door and tried the knob. I’m sure you know what happened next. That door opened right up. Of course it did!

 

And then my eyes started watering, and they are watering now as I write this. My eyes water when my heart is wide open – when God is talking to me. And that, my friends, would be a mic-drop moment normally, but I have more to tell you.

 

Inside that house was so much potential. I could almost see it as it was 132 years ago. There was even an old dusty piano sitting alone in the front parlor and crystal chandeliers hanging in almost every room. There was a creepy basement, layers upon peeling layers of wallpapers, ship lap, and a beautiful banister winding up to the second floor. I couldn’t stop talking about everything we could DO with this house!

 

When I got back to the office, I looked up all of the historical information about the house. So, so, so, cool! And, I started fretting about the “how” of it all. We might not be in a financial situation to buy an old house in addition to the one we live in right now. That’s why the lottery comment earlier. However, I just feel this could happen. I don’t know how and I don’t know when, I just know it could happen. I KNOW it! For some reason I am called to this house. It’s already my house in my mind! I even locked the front door when we left, because it absolutely must have been an oversight to leave that house unlocked! Someone could vandalize it after all!

 

And, what do you suppose is in the attic? Oh my goodness! I’m calling my dad; I need an investor! Maybe he’d be game for this adventure!

Garden 2017 Begins!

Garden 2017 2I’m so ready for Spring, even though I didn’t get my snow again this winter.  Oh, I know!  Everyone else got GOBS of snow, and it missed us every time!  So today, we put that all behind us and start preparing GARDEN 2017 at Morter Farm.  Usually we wait until St. Patrick’s Day to put in the potatoes, but not this year!

Garden 2017We’ve been watching videos on YouTube, learning new ways to plant for bigger yields and LESS WEEDS!  Also, the no-till method of gardening.  So, Farmer Ted knifed in some gypsum and then spread manure across the top of the first half and raked it smooth.  He’ll do the same with the other half this weekend.

Garden 2017 3Izabella (the Labrador) absolutely LOVES helping with any project.  She also loves potatoes, and steals them regularly from the pantry.  She found the “mother load” here in the garden, and before I realized it we had some blank spots in the rows!   Oh well, perfection in a garden is a unicorn anyway!

How do I love thee . . .

onmorterfarmmylocketEveryone who knows me knows how much I LOVE history.  And, nothing says romance more than the Victorian era of history. It was a time of love for innovation, craftsmanship, and the arts. Arguably, one of the most respected poets of the Victorian era was Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Her works are just full of tender and delicate – but also strong and deep – thought. Apparently she drew from her own sufferings – the untimely death of her brother, her life-long problem with illness, and her estrangement from her father made her the champion of the suffering and oppressed wherever she found them. So you have a little perspective in relation to time, she lived from 1806 to 1861. Her most famous work is Sonnets from the Portuguese, which is a collection of love sonnets. It is thought that the title was meant to shroud some of the personal nature of the poems by implying they were a translation of an older work– but they were really a thinly disguised history of her own love story with poet Robert Browning.

I have a heart-shaped, silver locket, which Ted bought for me from an antique store in England some years ago, and it has the most famous line from this sonnet engraved on the back.  On the inside of the locket is a picture of a man wearing a military uniform, and it looks like it was taken around 1900 or so.  On the opposite side of the locket from the picture is a lock of his hair.

Now let me just tell you, the energy of love in this locket has transcended the years. When I wear it, it becomes so warm, you could use it to warm your hands. I know that sounds weird, and it is.

So today, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I hope you’ll put a little romance into your heart by remembering the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

Preparing for V-Day!

onmorterfarmI fondly remember when Valentine’s Day meant we decorated a brown lunch sack with crepe paper squares pressed over the head of a pencil and glued in clusters to form hearts or words or whatever.  We’d hang our amazing creations on the fronts of our little desks and wait for everyone in the classroom to go around and deposit their Valentines into the bags.  What fun!  So also back in my day, the Valentine’s looked like the picture above. I ordered a whole slew of these vintage gems on eBay some time ago, and they are so great to photograph all together like this!

I’ve never stopped loving receiving Valentines.  So, I’ve taken to making my own each year and sending them to my parents, the kids, grandkids and other special people in my life. This year, I’ve been really into watercolors, so that’s how I created my cards.

onmorterfarm2 Here’s a sample of one of the designs.  I did four different ones and then decorated the envelopes, too.  Because . . . who doesn’t want to see a very special envelope decorated and addressed just for them, sitting inside their mailbox?!

onmorterfarm3And then of course I bought LOVE stamps, too.  Who wants a flag stamp on their Valentine?

I have found the real joy in Valentine’s Day is showing your peeps what they mean to you by taking the time to create something special for them.  And that’s what’s been going on in my art loft at Morter Farm!  Do creative today!

Contemplating Happiness

contemplating-happiness

I’ve been wondering a lot lately about what separates happy people from unhappy people. And, I don’t think it’s the bad things happening to unhappy people that makes them unhappy. Likewise, I don’t think it’s the good things happening to happy people that makes them happy.

And, maybe you know this already – I probably did – but I am really taking time to think about it lately. Unhappy people seem to constantly look for things to support their unhappiness. And let me tell you; there is an unlimited amount of things you can look back on and say this should not have happened if you want to continue to be unhappy. It’s all in how you choose to see your life experiences. Forgive your past and save your life. So true!  Because when you believe that everything happens for you instead of to you, in order to bring you to a higher understanding of your purpose in life, then you ultimately can’t be unhappy with anything that has happened!

Now, some things are more difficult to deal with than others for sure. The loss of a child, for instance, is very hard to come to terms with. Someone who we have known since she was a little girl recently lost her 2 ½ year-old son when he drowned in their pool. Horrific for sure.   Unimaginable. And, after a time of grief has passed, if she is a happy person she will find a way – by faith – to be happy again. She can use her experience to contribute to the universal energy in a positive way, or she can choose to be unhappy for the rest of her life. She can choose.

I used to think there was something wrong with me that I could muster up happiness even in what should’ve been my darkest times. But you know? I love being happy! I seek out ways to be happy. And, the older I get the more I realize I can’t change people who are unhappy – I can’t make them happy no matter how much I want that for them!  I then choose to be around them if I feel I won’t be letting go of my own happiness in order to do it. And, I don’t feel guilty about that choice – well most of the time I don’t! I am human and sometimes I have to talk with myself a bit! If something keeps coming to my mind and I’m feeling guilty because I’m not doing what is normally socially acceptable – what I quote “should” be doing. I stop and take a look at how doing this thing would affect my happiness. Now, I haven’t always done this! This has come with age and experience. I look at the situation and analyze it for not if I “should” do something, but if it’s going to make me feel happy to do it.  If it’s not going to make me feel happy, then I make the choice to say “enough now” and go on with my life.

Because at the end, if you were asked, “Did you love your life?” You have to be able to answer “Yes!” not “Yes, but . . . ” or “No, because . . . ” The only thing that works for me is Yes! I love my life!

 

 

 

 

Going Back to School

Crayon pic copy

I was at Target the other day, and they were busily preparing their shelves for “Back to School.”  Wow, that sure seemed to come around quickly, and I don’t even have kids going back to school!  They are all done with that – well they think they are anyway.

You know, even after all these years, I kind of get excited about “Back to School” time. I often wish I were part of the group doing that. A history class here and there. A creative writing class, maybe. Heck, what about an all-new major! That would be really fun!

I’ve done some online classes, even YouTube and iTunes U. I really feel like these take more discipline than the brick and mortar variety even. Lately, I’ve found myself inundated with work and so have been neglecting my education. That’s not good. That ol’ “life gets in the way” thing is just lack of motivation to get out of a rut. We have the power to choose! Don’t forget that!

Because education is what helps us grow! If we aren’t reading books and articles, going to classes or listening to/watching classes electronically, we aren’t learning!

So here’s what I’m going to do this week. I am going to commit myself to an all-new challenge, and that is to go back to school. And, by that I mean that each week, I complete some sort of class. Some weeks it could all be online. Some weeks it could be a book about something new to me – a study in something. Some weeks it could be a live seminar for a couple of days. The point is, each week I take the necessary steps to BE EDUCATED! Will you join me?

And you know, back to school means we get to go to Target or Staples or somewhere like that to get school supplies! Yay!!!! New notebooks, pens, whatever you need to support and excite you in this educational endeavor! It’s the first action step! Then, do your research for what you want to take classes in. What have you always wanted to learn about? Make your dream list in the front of your new notebook with your new pens!

This is really going to be fun – and it makes it even more fun when I have fellow students who are FOR ME in this challenge! I’ll keep you posted on what I’m learning!

At the Conclusion of the 3-Day Weekend

Demo DaySo, this is how the kitchen looks now at the CONCLUSION of the 3-day Memorial Day weekend.  This cabinet thing takes a LOT longer than you think when you are doing it all yourself!  It was kind of like camping . . . no water, no ice . . . well, except for the little bar sink on the island and the bag of ice in the freezer.  There was some cussing, but nothing like other projects we’ve tackled.

The next step?  Put the wood on the counter tops to provide the even, level surface preparing for the zinc sheets to arrive and put the sink back in.  We are also currently researching the best paint to use on the cabinets themselves.  I’ll keep you posted.

We completed exhausted Izabella during the process this weekend, but were so distracted we didn’t even tell her to get off the couch.

Izzy on the couch

The Kitchen Reno Begins in Earnest!

It seems like just yesterday that I proudly took these photos of our newly remodeled kitchen.  Turns out it was July of 2008!  Time once again to change things up.  Frankly, I’m surprised that I haven’t derailed earlier – my “design eye” changes only a little slower than the weather!  So, nearing the 8th anniversary of our last big renovation, we’re finally ready to bring our kitchen – our favorite room by far – into the new millennium!

My Pinterest board, Itchin’ For A New Kitchen, is full of ideas.  I’ve changed my mind on things many, many (OK, OK!) many times, but I’ve finally landed on “the look” I’m after.  Think Paris.  Think old.  Think blacks, wood, and old brass.  A far cry from this:IMG_0602.JPG

Oh, this was pretty . . . in a farmhouse way.  And, I LOVED it then!  After all, we live in a barn/farmhouse.  But, baby!  These times they are a changin’!  I want you to think black cabinets (simple, no “Z”s).  An old store counter for the island.  Old brass fixtures and the comfort of an old Paris Bistro.  Don’t worry if you are having trouble picturing it . . . it took me a long time to get it all put together in my head!

We cheated a bit and started on the pantry first.  So, really, the reno has been going on for a couple of weeks or so.  However, this long holiday weekend is completely devoted to cabinets.  Ted build the original ones, and he is building the new ones.  Basically we are just re-facing them.  Think dust.  Think cussing.  But they will be strong, REAL wood, and build with care and thought by him and him alone.  I love that.  So here is the pantry finished except for the floor being painted.

The PantryI

I didn’t have the foresight to take a picture of the before, but trust me, you aren’t missing a thing!  White wire shelving (like in closets) and just a LOT of junk.

Wish us luck!  I’ll keep you posted as to the progress!  Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend in your neck of the woods!